Sermon 1925. Jesus and the Children
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 17, 1886,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those who brought them. Butwhen Jesus saw it, He was much displeased and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to Me, and forbid them not:for of such is the Kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child,he shall not enter in it. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16.
IT must be a very great sin, indeed, to hinder anybody from coming to Christ. He is the only way of salvation from the wrathof God. He is salvation from the terrible judgment that is due to sin-who would dare to keep the perishing from that way?To alter the signposts on the way to the City of Refuge, or to dig a trench across the road would have been an inhuman act,deserving the sternest condemnation. He who holds back a soul from Jesus is the servant of Satan and is doing the most diabolicalof all the devil's work! We are all agreed about this.
I wonder, my dear Friends, whether any of us are quite innocent in this respect? May we not have hindered others from repentanceand faith? It is a sad suspicion, but I am afraid that many of us have done so.
Certainly you who have never believed in Jesus, yourselves, have, sadly, done much to prevent others believing. The forceof example, whether for good or bad, is very powerful and especially is it so with parents upon their children, superiorsupon their underlings and teachers upon their pupils. Perhaps, Father, if you had been an earnest Christian, your son wouldnot have been ungodly. Possibly, dear Mother, if you had been decided for the Savior, the girls would have been Christians,too. We have to speak and judge after the manner of men but, assuredly, example is a great fashioner of character. We can,none of us, tell, if we go down to Hell, how many we shall draw with us, for we are bound to thousands by invisible bands.Here's the respect which makes a wide calamity out of the ruin of a single soul. Over the tomb of each sinner may be readthis epitaph, "this men perished not alone in his iniquity." "None of us lives to himself and no man dies to himself."
If we could fling our souls away as solitary stones out of the sling, this were woe enough, but since we are all threadedbeads upon the string of common life, where one goes, many go with him. The plague of sin will not confine itself to one man'shouse-it sallies forth from every door and window-and slays its victims all around so that "one sinner destroys much good."May I put this question to those of you who have never repented of your sins, nor sought the Savior's face? Have you calculatedwhat baneful influences are streaming from your lives upon the souls of your children, your wives, your brothers, your friends?Jesus says, "He that is not with Me, is against Me, and He that gathers not with Me, scatters abroad." How many have you scatteredabroad like wandering sheep? How many have you induced to remain careless and godless since they see you doing the same? Theseare solemn reflections for those who mean no harm and yet are doing it.
Do not some persons go further than their example and hinder others from coming to Christ by discouraging speeches? They disheartenthose who are hoping for better things. Working men are to be found who never see any tenderness towards holy things in afellow employee but what they hasten, at once, to wound his heart. If they suspect a comrade of endeavoring to escape fromdrunkenness, they ridicule him-and if he goes further and exhibits faith towards God-they make him the football of their contempt!It must entail a fearful responsibility upon a man for him to make himself the opposer of all good in his companions. Whyare so many eager to undertake this responsibility? It is a sorrowful thing that certain men will let others alone and evenbe friendly with them, should they drink, swear and commit
lewdness-and yet, as soon as they have serious thoughts of religion, they attack them bitterly! Half a fault in a Christianis made the theme of the most ungenerous comment-but actual crimes will be excused in an irreligious person! Why should menwish to prevent their fellow beings from being saved? Friend, if you choose to ruin your own soul, why should you try to ruinothers? Why play the dog in the manger? If you will not have religion for yourself, why not let others have it? It can beno gain to you either in this world, or in the world to come, to stand with a club at the gates of life to drive back allwho would enter!
Again, certain would-be wise people hinder souls from coming to Christ by cunningly insinuating doubts about the Revelationof the Divine Word. They have heard from an infidel lecturer, or from some "modern thought" preacher, a dangerous piece oferror and they no sooner find a young mind inclined to serious things than they, at once, repeat this pretty lie! By theircaptious questions, they stagger young minds. By their evil teaching they dry up the springs of repentance and paralyze thestrength of faith. Fierce as Pharaoh, they would throw all new-born faith into the river of doubt. Cruel as the Prince ofDarkness, they would quench every newly-kindled candle of hope. They are more diligent to destroy the faith than others areto spread it! What an accumulation of guilt must be resting upon the mind of the man who breathes out doubt as other men breatheair! Neither God, nor Christ, nor Heaven, nor Hell can escape the foul steam of his infidelity. See how he blasts the soulson whom he breathes!
Calculate his crimes. Put down the soul-murders of which he is guilty. Item-a young man decoyed from the Bible class, familiarizedwith blasphemous notions and then led into outward sin and speedy death. Write that down in blood! Note the next item-a younggirl, once hopeful and considerate, impressed by the supposed scientific knowledge of an unbeliever is led from the faithof her mother and, by-and-by, snared by the world so as to live and die impenitent. Write that also in blood to be demandedat the doubter's door in the Last Great Day! Woe unto those who act the part ofjack-als to the lion of Hell! May God giverepentance to those who have been the bodyguard of the Prince of Darkness, doing his murderous work with both their handsby denying the Truth of God and sowing the seeds of unbelief! If I speak to any such, I do it with sorrowful indignation andI beg them to turn from their evil way.
In many ways, evil-minded persons may lead others to that evil decision which, in the ungodly, almost occupies the same placeas conversion in the case of the regenerate. Minds in their early days are plastic. The first seven years of our being oftenshape all the rest. At any rate, give to godly teaching the first 12 years of any child and it will be difficult to erasethe writing. Some seem to take a wretched delight in stamping upon the soft clay their own vile impression and in confirmingupon youth the dangerous tendencies already present! These people work conversions unto evil by which young minds become settledin vice and established in wickedness!
God save us from hindering a single soul from coming to Christ and Heaven! I cannot help trembling, sometimes, lest a coldand chilly sermon of mine should wither young buds of promise; lest in the Prayer Meeting a wandering, rambling prayer froma heartless professor should dampen the rising earnestness of a tearful seeker. I tremble for you, my dear Brothers and Sistersin Christ, lest levity of conversation, worldliness of conduct, inconsistency of behavior, or callousness of demeanor should,in any one of you, at any time, turn the lame out of the way, or give cause of stumbling to one of the Lord's little ones.Lord, save me from being a partaker in other men's sins and especially in being, in any measure, the cause of another man'sdestruction! Oh to be clear of the blood of all men! God forbid that we should be accomplices in the murder of souls, eitherbefore the fact, or in the fact, or after the fact-for in each of these ways we may be guilty! God help us, Brothers, to avoidthis great sin of hindering others in their coming to Christ!
Yet this is not the subject of my discourse this morning. I shall only deal with a single form of it. I am going to speakupon the great sin of hindering the young from coming to Christ. First, let us describe it. Secondly, let us watch its action.Thirdly, let us see how Jesus Christ condemns it. And then, lastly, let us take a hint from the doctrine which our Lord incidentallylays down. It may be that the Lord will bless this to our souls.
I. LET US DESCRIBE THIS SIN of hindering young children from coming to Christ.
First, I may say of it that it is very common. It must be common, or else it would not have been found among the 12 Apostles.The immediate disciples of our Lord were a highly honorable band of men despite their mistakes and shortcomings. They musthave been greatly sweetened by living near to One so perfect and so full of love. I gather, therefore, that if these men,who were the cream of the cream, rebuked the mothers who brought their young children to Christ, it must be a pretty commonoffense in the Church of God. I fear that the chilling frost of this mistake is felt almost everywhere. I
am not going to make any ungenerous statement, but I think if a little personal investigation were made, many of us mightfind ourselves guilty upon this point and might be led to cry, with Pharaoh's butler, "I do remember my faults this day."Have we laid ourselves out for the conversion of children as much as we have done for the conversion of grown-up folks? What?Do you think me sarcastic? Do you not lay yourselves out for anybody's conversion? What must I say to you? It is dreadfulthat the spirit of Cain should enter a Believer's heart and make him say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" It is a shocking thingthat we should, ourselves, eat the fat and drink the sweet-and leave the famishing multitudes to perish! But tell me, now,if you did care for the salvation of souls, would you not think it rather too commonplace a matter to begin with boys andgirls? Yes-and your feeling is shared by many. The fault is common.
I believe, however, that this feeling, in the case of the Apostles, was caused by zeal for Jesus. These good men thought thatthe bringing of children to the Savior would cause an interruption-He was engaged in much better work-He had been confoundingthe Pharisees, instructing the masses and healing the sick. Could it be right to pester Him with children? The little oneswould not understand His teaching and they did not need His miracles-why should they be brought in to disturb His great doings?Therefore the disciples as good as said, "Take your children back, good women. Teach them the Law of God, yourselves, andinstruct them in the Psalms and the Prophets and pray with them. Every child cannot have Christ's hands laid on it. If wesuffer one set of children to come, we shall have all the neighborhood swarming about us and the Savior's work will be grievouslyinterrupted. Do you not see this? Why do you act so
The disciples had such reverence for their Master that they would send the prattlers away lest the great Rabbi should seemto become a mere teacher of babes! This may have been a zeal for God, but it was not according to knowledge! Thus in thesedays, certain Brothers would hardly like to receive many children into the Church lest it should become a society of boysand girls. Surely, if these come into the Church in any great numbers, the Church may be spoken of in terms of reproach! Theoutside world will call it a mere Sunday school. I remember that when a fallen woman had been converted in one of our countytowns, there was an objection among certain professors to her being received into the Church and certain lewd fellows of thebaser sort even went the length of advertising upon the walls the fact that the Baptist minister had baptized a harlot! Itold my friend to regard it as an honor.
Even so, if any reproach us with receiving young children into the Church, we will wear the reproach as a badge of honor!Holy children cannot possibly do us any harm. God will send us sufficient of age and experience to steer the Church prudently.We will receive none who fail to yield evidence of the new birth, however old they may be-and we will shut out no Believers,however young they may be! God forbid that we should condemn our cautious Brothers, but, at the same time, we wish their cautionwould show itself where it is more required. Jesus will not be dishonored by the children-we have far more cause to fear theadults!
The Apostles' rebuke of the children arose, in a measure, from ignorance of the children's need. If any mother in that thronghad said, "I must bring my child to the Master, for he is sorely afflicted with a devil," neither Peter, nor James, nor Johnwould have demurred for a moment, but would have assisted in bringing the possessed child to the Savior. Or suppose anothermother had said, "My child has a pining sickness upon it. It is wasted to skin and bone. Permit me to bring my darling, thatJesus may lay His hands upon her"-the disciples would all have said-"Make way for this woman and her sorrowful burden." Butthese little ones with bright eyes, prattling tongues and leaping limbs-why should they come to Jesus?
Ah, Friends, they forgot that in those children, with all their joy, their health and their apparent innocence, there wasa great and grievous need for the blessing of a Savior's Grace! If you indulge in the novel idea that your children do notneed conversion-that children born of Christian parents are somewhat superior to others and have good within them which onlyneeds development-one great motive for your devout earnestness will be gone! Believe me, Brothers and Sisters, your childrenneed the Spirit of God to give them new hearts and right spirits or else they will go astray as other children do! Rememberthat however young they are, there is a stone within the youngest breast-and that stone must be taken away, or be the ruinof the child!
There is a tendency to evil even where as yet it has not developed into act-and that tendency needs to be overcome by theDivine Power of the Holy Spirit, causing the child to be born again! Oh that the Church of God would cast off the old Jewishidea which still has such force around us, namely, that natural birth brings with it Covenant privileges! Now,
even under the old dispensation there were hints that the true Seed was not born after the flesh, but after the spirit, asin the case of Ishmael and Isaac and Esau and Jacob. Will not even the Church of God know that, "That which is born of theflesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit?" "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" The naturalbirth communicates Nature's filthiness, but it cannot convey Grace. Under the New Covenant we are expressly told that thesons of God are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Under the Old Covenant,which was typical, the birth according to the flesh yielded privilege, but to come at all under the Covenant of Grace youmust be born again! The first birth brings you nothing but an inheritance with the first Adam. You must be born again to comeunder the headship of the second Adam!
But it is written, says one, "that the promise is unto you and to your children." Dear Friends, there never was a grosserpiece of knavery committed under Heaven than the quotation of that text as it is usually quoted! I have heard it quoted manytimes to prove a doctrine which is very far removed from that which it clearly teaches. If you take one half of any sentencewhich a man utters and leave out the rest, you may make him say the opposite of what he means! What do you think that textreally is? See Acts 2:39-"The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."This grandly wide statement is the argument on which is founded the exhortation, "Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you."It is not a declaration of special privilege to anyone, but a presentation of Grace as much to all that are afar off as tothem and to their children! There is not a word in the New Testament to show that the benefits of Divine Grace are, in anydegree, transmitted by natural descent-they come "to as many as the Lord our God shall call," whether their parents are saintsor sinners! How can people have the impudence to tear off half a text to make it teach what is not true?
No, Brothers and Sisters, you must sorrowfully look upon your children as born in sin and shaped in iniquity, "heirs of wrath,even as others." And though you may, yourself, belong to a line of saints and trace your pedigree from minister to minister,all eminent in the Church of God, yet your children occupy precisely the same position by their birth as other people's childrendo, so that they must be redeemed from under the curse of the Law by the precious blood of Jesus and they must receive a newnature by the work of the Holy Spirit! They are favored by being placed under godly training and under the hearing of theGospel, but their need and their sinfulness are the same as in the rest of the race. If you think of this, you will see thereason why they should be brought to Jesus Christ-a reason why they should be brought as speedily as possible in the armsof your prayer and faith to Him who is able to renew them!
Also, no doubt, this feeling that children may not come to Christ may be derived from a doubt about their capacity to receivethe blessing which Jesus is able to give. Upon this subject, if I were at this moment to deal with facts, alone, and not withmere opinion, I could spend the whole morning in giving details of young children whom I have personally conversed with, someof them very young children, indeed. I will say broadly that I have more confidence in the spiritual life of the childrenthat I have received into this Church than I have in the spiritual condition of the adults thus received. I will even go furtherthan that and say that I have usually found a clearer knowledge of the Gospel and a warmer love to Christ in the child convertsthan in the grown-up converts. I will even astonish you still more by saying that I have sometimes met with a deeper spiritualexperience in children of 10 and 12 than I have in certain persons of 50 and sixty!
It is an old proverb that some children are born with beards. Some boys are little men and some girls are little old women.You cannot measure the lives of any of us by our ages. I knew a boy who, when he was 15, often heard old Christian peoplesay, "The boy is 60 years old-he speaks with such insight into Divine Truths of God." I believe that this youth at 15 didknow far more of the things of God and of soul travail than any around him, whatever their age might be. I cannot tell youwhy it is, but I know it is that some are old when they are young and some are very green when they are old. Some are wisewhen you would expect them to be otherwise and others are very foolish when you might have expected that they had left theirfolly.
Oh, dear Friends, talk not of a child's incapacity for repentance! I have known a child weep herself to sleep by the monthtogether under a crushing sense of sin. If you would know a deep, bitter and awful fear of the wrath of God, let me tell youwhat I felt as a boy. If you would know joy in the Lord, many a child has been as full of it as his little heart could hold.If you want to know what faith in Jesus is, you must not look to those who have been befuddled by the heretical jargon ofthe times, but to the dear children who have taken Jesus at His Word and believed in Him, loved Him and, therefore, know andare sure that they are saved! Capacity for believing lies more in the child than in the man! We grow
less rather than more capable of faith-every year brings the unregenerate mind further away from God and makes it less capableof receiving the things of God! No ground is more prepared for the good Seed than that which, as yet, has not been trod downas the highway, nor has been, as yet, overgrown with thorns! Not yet has the child learned the deceits of pride, the falsehoodsof ambition, the delusions of worldliness, the tricks of trade, the sophistries of philosophy-and so far it has an advantageover the adult! In any case, the new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit and He can as easily work upon youth as upon age.
Some, too, have hindered the children because they have been forgetful of the child's value. The soul's price does not dependupon its years. "Oh, it is only a child!" "Children are a nuisance." "Children are always getting in the way." This talk iscommon. God forgive those who despise the little ones! Will you be very angry if I say that a boy is more worth saving thana man? It is infinite mercy on God's part to save those who are seventy-for what good can they now do with the end of theirlives? When we get to be 50 or 60, we are almost worn out and, if we have spent all our early days with the devil, what remainsfor God? But these dear boys and girls-there is something to be made out of them! If now they yield themselves to Christ,they may have a long, happy and holy day before them in which they may serve God with all their hearts! Who knows what GloryGod may have of them? Heathen lands may call them blessed! Whole nations may be enlightened by them! If a famous schoolmasterwas accustomed to take his hat off to his boys because he did not know whether one of them might not be Prime Minister, wemay justly look with awe upon converted children, for we do not know how soon they may be among the angels, or how greatlytheir light may shine among men! Oh, Brothers and Sisters, let us estimate children at their true value and we shall not keepthem back, but we shall be eager to lead them to Jesus at once!
In proportion to our own spirituality of mind and in proportion to our own child-likeness of heart, we shall be at home withchildren-and we shall enter into their early fears and hopes, their budding faith and opening love! Dwelling among young converts,we shall seem to be in a garden of flowers, in a vineyard where the tender grapes give a good smell!
II. Secondly, concerning this hindering of children, LET US WATCH ITS ACTION. I think the results of this sad feeling aboutchildren coming to the Savior is to be seen, first, in the fact that often there is nothing in the service for the children.The sermon is over their heads and the preacher does not think that this is any fault. In fact, he rather rejoices that itis so! Some time ago a person who needed, I suppose, to make me feel my own insignificance, wrote to say that he had met witha number of Negroes who had read my sermons with evident pleasure. And he wrote that he believed they were very suitable forwhat he was pleased to call, "Niggers." Yes, my preaching was just the sort of stuff for "Niggers" he said. The gentlemandid not dream what sincere pleasure he caused me, for if I am understood by poor people, by servant girls, by children, Iam sure I can be understood by others! I am ambitious to preach to anyone, if, by these you mean the lowest, the rag-tag andbob-tail. I think nothing greater than to win the hearts of the lowly! So with regard to children. People occasionally sayof such a one, "He is only fit to teach children. He is no preacher." Sirs, I tell you that in God's sight he is no preacherwho does not care for the children! There should be at least a part of every sermon and service that will suit the littleones! It is an error which permits us to forget this.
Parents sin in the same way when they omit religion from the education of their children. Perhaps the thought is that theirchildren cannot be converted while they are children and so they think it of small consequence where they go to school intheir tender years. But it is not so. Many parents even forget this when their girls and boys are closing their school days.They send them away to the Continent, to places foul with every moral and spiritual danger, with the idea that there theycan complete an elegant education. In how many cases I have seen that education completed and it has produced young men whoare thorough-paced profligates and young women who are mere flirts! As we sow we reap. Let us expect our children to knowthe Lord! Let us, from the beginning, mingle the name of Jesus with their A B Cs. Let them read their first lessons from theBible! It is a remarkable thing that there is no book from which children learn to read so quickly as from the New Testament-thereis a charm about that book which draws forth the infant mind. But oh, dear Friends, let us never be guilty, as parents, offorgetting the religious training of our children, for if we do, we may be guilty of the blood of their souls!
Another result is that the conversion of children is not expected in many of our Churches and congregations. I mean that theydo not expect the children to be converted as children. The theory is that if we can impress youthful minds with
principles which may, in later years, prove useful to them, we have done a great deal. But to convert children as children,and to regard them as being as much Believers as their seniors is regarded as absurd! To this supposed absurdity I cling withall my heart! I believe that of children is the Kingdom of God, both on earth and in Heaven! It is a sacred joy to me, onThursday night, to notice certain boys and girls who have, for a long time, attended the pastor's Prayer Meeting with greatregularity! Some of you old folks do not come and pray for your pastor, but these children do, for they love their pastorand he, on his part, highly values their prayers! Happy Church which is adorned and blessed by prayers of dear children whoearly learn to cry to the great Father for the hallowing of His name and the coming of His Kingdom! We expect to see childrenconverted and we do!
Another evil result is that the conversion of children is not believed in. Certain suspicious people always file their teetha bit when they hear of a newly-converted child-they will have a bite at him if they can. They very rightly insist upon itthat these children should be carefully examined before they are baptized and admitted into the Church, but they are wrongin insisting that only in exceptional instances are they to be received. We quite agree with them as to the care to be exercised,but it should be the same in all cases and neither more nor less in the cases of children. I thank God that the most of thosedear children who have been added to this Church could stand a rigid examination in doctrinal matters and would bear favorablecomparison with the older folks! But still, it seems to me a very harsh thing that a high degree of knowledge should be expectedof them.
How often do people expect to see in boys and girls the same solemnity of behavior which is seen in older people! It wouldbe a good thing for us all if we had never left off being boys and girls, but had added to all the excellencies of a childthe virtues of a man. Surely it is not necessary to kill the child to make the saint! It is thought, by the more severe, thata converted child must become 10 years older in a minute. A very solemn person once called me from the playground after Ihad joined the Church and warned me of the impropriety of playing at trap, bat and ball with the boys. He said, "How can youplay like others if you are a child of God?" I answered that I was employed as an usher and it was part of my duty to joinin the amusements of the boys. My venerable critic thought that this altered the matter very materially, but it was clearlyhis view that a converted boy, as such, ought never to play! What foolery, Brothers and Sisters! I will say no more.
Do not others expect from children more perfect conduct than they, themselves, exhibit? If a gracious child should lose histemper, or act wrongly in some trifling thing through forgetfulness-straightway he is condemned as a little hypocrite by thosewho are a long way from being perfect themselves! Jesus says, "Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones." Takeheed that you say not an unkind word against your younger Brothers in Christ, your little Sisters in the Lord! Jesus setssuch great store by His dear lambs that He carries them in His bosom-and I charge you who follow your Lord-show a like tenderness,in all things, to the little ones of the Divine family. I will not say more on that point.
III. And now let us notice, thirdly, how JESUS CONDEMNED THIS FAULT.
First, He condemned it as contrary to His own spirit. "They brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: andHis disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased." He was not often displeased.Certainly He was not often, "much displeased," and when He was much displeased, we may be sure that the cause was serious.He was displeased at these children being pushed away from Him, for it was so contrary to His mind about them. The disciplesdid wrong to the mothers. They rebuked the parents for doing a motherly act-for doing, in fact, that which Jesus loved themto do. They brought their children to Jesus out of respect to Him. They valued a blessing from His hands more than gold. Theyexpected that the benediction of God would go with the touch of the great Prophet. They may have hoped that a touch of thehand of Jesus would make their children's lives bright and happy. Though there may have been a measure of weakness in theparents' thought, yet the Savior could not judge harshly of that which arose out of reverence to His Person. He was, therefore,much displeased to think that those good women who meant Him honor, should be roughly repulsed.
There was also wrong done to the children. Sweet little ones! What had they done that they should be chided for coming toJesus? They had not meant to intrude. Dear things! They would have fallen at His feet in reverent love for the sweet-voicedTeacher who charmed not only men, but children, by His tender words! The little ones meant no harm and why should they beblamed?
Besides, there was wrong done to Himself. It might have made men think that Jesus was stiff, reserved and self-exalted likethe Rabbis. If they had thought that He could not condescend to children, they would have sadly slandered the repute of Hisgreat love. His heart was a great harbor wherein many little ships might cast anchor. Jesus, the Child-Man, was never moreat home than with children. The Holy Child Jesus had an affinity for children. Was He to be represented by His own disciplesas shutting the door against children? It would do sad injury to His Character. Therefore, grieved at the triple evil whichwounded the mothers, the children and Himself, He was sorely displeased. Anything we do to hinder a dear child from comingto Jesus greatly displeases our dear Lord. He cries to us, "Stand off. Let them alone. Let them come to Me and forbid themnot." Dear gray-headed Friends, who are so strict and good, I must get you to stand back a bit and suffer that child to cometo Jesus, for I do not wish the Lord to be displeased with you. And you, good Christian Sisters, who have curdled a littlein your temper, I must beg you be quiet lest the Lord should be displeased with you, as He will be if you forbid the childrento come to Him! So, you see, it was contrary to His spirit.
Next, it was contrary to His teaching, for He went on to say, "Whoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child,he shall not enter in it." Christ's teaching was not that there is something in us to fit us for the Kingdom of God and thata certain number of years may make us capable of receiving Grace. All His teaching went the other way, namely, that we areto be nothing and that the less we are and the weaker we are, the better, for the less we have of self, the more room thereis for His Divine Grace! Do you think to come to Jesus up the ladder of knowledge? Come down, Sir, you will meet Him at thefoot! Do you think to reach Jesus up the steep hill of experience! Come down, dear climber-He stands in the plain! "Oh, butwhen I am old, I shall then be prepared for Christ." Stay where you are, young man! Jesus meets you at the door of life-youwere never more fit to meet Him than now. He asks nothing of you but that you will be nothing and that He may be All in Allto you. That is His teaching-and to send back the child because it has not this or that is to fly in the teeth of the blesseddoctrine of the Grace of God!
Once more, it was quite contrary to Jesus Christ's practice. He made them see this, for, "He took them up in His arms, putHis hands upon them and blessed them." All His life there is nothing in Him like rejection and refusing. He says truly, "Himthat comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out." If He did cast out any because they were too young, the text would be falsifiedat once-but that can never be! He is the Receiver of all who come to Him. It is written, "This Man receives sinners and eatswith them." All His life He might be drawn as a Shepherd with a lamb in His bosom-never as a cruel shepherd setting his dogsupon the lambs and driving them and their mothers away! I have neither time nor strength to say more and I must close witha mere glance at our last point.
IV. LET US TAKE THE HINT WHICH JESUS GIVES TO THOSE WHO WOULD COME TO HIM. "Whoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God asa little child, he shall not enter in it." How I wish that all my congregation would come and receive Christ as a little childreceives Him! The little child has no prejudices, no preconceived theories nor opinions it cannot give up. It believes whatJesus says. You must come in the same way to learn of Christ. I fear you know a great deal-throw it out the window! You havemade up your mind about a great many things-unmake your mind and be as wax to the seal before Jesus!
A little child believes with an unquestioning faith which makes everything vivid and real. Believe just so! The child believesin all humility, looking up to its teacher and receiving its teacher's word as decisive. Believe in Jesus just so! Say, "Lord,I am a know-nothing. I come to You to be taught. I am nothing, be You my All in All."
A child, when it comes to Christ, comes very sincerely and with all its heart. It knows nothing of sinister motives, or offormality. Its repentance and faith are genuine. I wish you would come to Christ this morning, you poor guilty ones, in realearnest, just as you are. Do not play at religion any more. Do not look for fine words with which to trim yourselves and makeyour prayers look neat and pretty, but come as a child does, in all simplicity, not ashamed to talk as your heart feels.
When a child believes in Jesus, it cares nothing for critical points. That is the way you must come to Christ. You that havealways been inventing religious riddles-you that for many years have been readers of the last new novels in modern theology-forthey are mere novels and nothing better! You that have addled your brains with the vain thoughts of vain men, come to Jesusas you are and believe what Jesus says because Jesus says it! Take Christ at His Word and trust Him- that is the way to besaved!
"But I have no merit," said one, "I have no preparation." Neither has a child. I never find children troubled about beingprepared for Christ. I never hear of such a thing as a child worried about qualifications for Grace! A child is a sinner andknows it. That is the way to come to Christ. Come as a sinner, knowing that you are such! Say, "Jesus calls me, and I come;Jesus died for me and I trust Him." That is the true way to come to Jesus. O Friends, instead of thinking yourselves morefit for Christ by growing bigger, grow smaller! Instead of getting greater, get less! Instead of being more wise, be morecompletely bereft of all wisdom and come to Jesus for wisdom, righteousness and all things!
Sometimes when we are very feeble and our language is very simple, God may bless it all the more and I do pray He may, thismorning, set His seal upon this poor talk of His sick servant! Every particle of my flesh and every atom of my bones is prayingGod to bless this sermon! Grim pain has been racking me while I have been speaking. May this discourse be more honorable thanits brethren because I bore it with sorrow! I long, I pine, I cry before God that He may bless this feeble word of mine toyour conversion and to the conversion of many dear children. Those of you who have never looked to Christ and lived, do untoChrist, I pray you, just what these dear children did-He called them and they came and were folded in His arms. Come alongwith you! Do you half wish you could be a child, again? You can be! He can give you a child's heart and you can be in HisKingdom newly-born. May it be so, for His name's sake! Amen.